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Sri Lanka out for 135, England in control

Rick Goodman
·3-min read

England captain Joe Root has struck his 50th Test fifty to put them in a strong position on the first day of the opening Test after Dom Bess took five wickets to bowl Sri Lanka out for a paltry 135.

An unbeaten 110-run partnership between Jonny Bairstow and Root saw England to 2-127 at stumps on Thursday, trailing by eight runs.

England have the opportunity to go on and build a significant lead after Sri Lanka posted the lowest first-innings score in a Test at the Galle International Stadium.

Root and Bairstow steadied matters after spinner Lasith Embuldeniya, who opened the bowling, had removed England openers Dom Sibley (4) and Zak Crawley (9) cheaply.

Root, in his 98th Test, survived a leg before decision when on 20, which was overturned on review, before reaching his half century off 94 balls. He will resume on Friday on 66 with Bairstow playing a strong supporting role with 47 not out.

Bess took 5-30 off just 10.1 overs with strong back-up from Stuart Broad (3-20) as the home side failed to take advantage of winning the toss with some wayward batting.

"It was an absolute dream-world day for us and (to take) three wickets in Sri Lanka for a seamer, it feels like a decent day for me personally," Broad told Sky Sports.

Broad said he focused on building pressure and making the batsmen play, while the pitch offered a bit of extra bounce for the bowlers.

"You don't get days much better than these in the subcontinent," Broad added.

"Bowling a team out cheaply and getting close to them two down is fantastic.

"Bairstow and Rooty showed their class. They played with great calmness and composure, but playing their aggressive options in the way they wanted to.

"As day ones go, we're delighted in the England camp but we know there's a lot of cricket to be played."

Bess got off to the perfect start when he took the wicket of the dangerous Kusal Perera with only his second ball of the morning.

Attempting an ambitious reverse sweep, Perera succeeded only in top edging the ball to Root at slip to depart for 20, the first of several ill-considered shots from the home batsmen.

Niroshan Dickwella was caught at backward point for 12 while Dasun Shanaka, who scored 23, went in bizarre circumstances, sweeping his shot onto the ankle of Bairstow at short leg, popping it up into the air for wicketkeeper Jos Buttler to claim.

Preferred to England's record Test wicket taker James Anderson, Broad bagged opener Lahiru Thirimanne and struggling Kusal Mendis in the same over for the first two wickets of the Test and then added Angelo Mathews after lunch.

Dinesh Chandimal, who took over the captaincy from injured Dimuth Karunaratne, top scored for the hosts with 28.

Sri Lanka were forced to leave out Karunaratne due to a fractured thumb - another injury blow to a team that suffered several setbacks on their tour of South Africa earlier this month.

- with PA